Visit most any cantina, restaurant or coffee bar in Mexico City and you’re likely to see tables full of people enjoying a “carajillo.” The cocktail, a Spanish coffee drink, has become ubiquitous in Mexico, and has now quickly found its way into home bars and drink menus in the U.S.
The Mexican carajillo, known as a “Carajillo 43” or “Original Carajillo,” is made from espresso and Licor 43, poured over ice. (Licor 43, the best-selling Spanish liqueur in the world, is a brightly golden-colored spirit created from a secret age-old family recipe of 43 natural ingredients.) Thriving interest in Mexican culture in the U.S., coupled with increased awareness and taste for high-quality coffee, has helped the Carajillo 43 quickly become a new favorite this side of the border.
“A few years ago, nobody knew what this was, but now you see the carajillo everywhere. It’s becoming a classic cocktail,” says Charity Johnston, the Los Angeles-based Director of Operations at The Madera Group which owns and operates the popular Tocaya Organica and Toca Madera collection of restaurants. Her Carajillo 43 is a layered cocktail, then sprinkled with cinnamon and a sprig of thyme. “People love it. When they see a carajillo go out, suddenly the entire restaurant wants one!”
In addition to the growing excitement for coffee and coffee cocktails, Johnston attributes some of the popularity of the carajillo to the burgeoning interest among consumers to treat dining and drinking as a full experiential occasion, whether in a restaurant or at home. People are drinking more “European style” now, she says, giving more consideration to the entire experience of what they’re drinking before and after the meal.
“People are more adventurous, they’re willing to try new things, and the carajillo fits perfectly into that trend,” Johnston says.
That’s a sentiment shared by James Mireles, founder of Pulp Coffee Roasters in San Antonio, who has worked closely with Licor 43 to help identify different types of coffee that pair best in the Carajillo 43.
“People’s palates are much more mature these days – even for people who don’t typically drink alcohol, they enjoy coffee cocktails and they’re excited about the carajillo,” he says.
Licor 43 is owned by The Zamora Company, based in Spain, and marketed in the U.S. by Zamora Company USA. To help promote and increase awareness for the Carajillo 43, the company has engaged bartenders across the country to educate them about the cocktail, and has developed print, digital, and outdoor consumer advertising in key U.S. markets to reinforce how easy it is to prepare a Carajillo 43 at home.
“Bartenders tell me all the time how much they enjoy the Carajillo 43, and how they delight in introducing it to people. It’s such a delicious combination of the bitterness of coffee and the spicy sweetness of Licor 43, and it’s so easy to prepare at the bar or at home,” says Matt Appleby, Director of Marketing at Zamora Company USA. “With National Coffee Day approaching, it’s the perfect occasion to try one!”
To prepare a Carajillo 43:
1¾ oz. Licor 43 Original
Hot espresso coffee
Method (shaken or stirred):
Shaken: Pour Licor 43 into a cocktail shaker, and add a hot espresso and ice cubes. Shake and strain into a glass full of ice.
Stirred: Half fill a glass with ice cubes and pour Licor 43 over the top. Serve alongside the cup of hot espresso and, before drinking, pour the coffee over the liqueur and stir.